Have you ever read a book and immediately liked the author as a result? Well, that is exactly how I felt when I read Evan’s Castle by Tracy Fabre. I liked Tracy immediately. Perhaps, it’s the fact that our leading males share the same last name: Callahan. Or that Callie is a name in our current books. Perhaps, it is something much more important: I was very impressed with Tracy’s writing. So please enjoy this interview…and tomorrow I will post my review of Evan’s Castle.
~Q & A with Tracy Fabre~
#1: Getting to Know You
* Where are you from? I am from many places – I’ve lived in eleven states – but I consider the south, and particularly Alabama, my home.
* What is your favorite color?
Blue! No, brown! No — sorry, I thought this was the Bridge of Doom from Monty Python & The Holy Grail. You were supposed to lead with “WHAT is your name?” and “WHAT is your quest?” (Seriously, it’s GREEN.)
* What’s your favorite place in the entire world?
Sittin’ on the dock (any dock) of the bay (Mobile Bay, eastern shore, bay breeze, blue sky, puffy clouds, sunset, pelicans, gulls, ahhhhhh.)
#2: Writing: General
* What is the address for your blog and/or website?
My website is http://www.tracyfabre.com. I don’t have a blog per se, but I do post odds and ends on Gather.com, where I can be found at http://tracyfabre.gather.com.
* Some writers use notebooks, journals, scraps of paper—even typewriters and then transfer their work to the computer; others type out their thoughts. What is your preferred writing method?
Once upon a time I wrote longhand–didn’t everyone? I bought a word processor in the mid-90s thinking it would suit me more than a PC, but yeah, that was a silly idea. I use Word, and when I’m unable to add to a working document, I will send myself emails with partial scenes and bits of dialogue I don’t want to forget. Sometimes I will keep a piece of paper near the PC with quick facts, like timelines and plot points I know I need to resolve. Plus, of course, the aliens dictate what they—umm, never mind. *bzzzzZzzZzzt*
* Since becoming a writer, what is the most exciting thing that has happened to you?
Having people read what I write, voluntarily, and then tell me—voluntarily–that they like it. Nothing tops that. Nothing. Well, winning the lottery and moving to Mobile Bay to resume writing there would be moderately nifty. And getting rid of those aliens.
#3: Writing: Specific
* Which came first, the novel or the title?
The book you read, Evan’s Castle, was the first one I had published but not the first one I completed. The title came halfway through, and of all my books, was by far the easiest. I have one unpublished novel which I have renamed about six times and I hate all versions of the title. If only the aliens would tell me what… ummm, never mind. *bzzzzZzzZzzt*
* How do you come up with your character’s names?
I like ordinary names, simple and straightforward. (The one exception was in my novel Reasons, which, since I started it in my tender know-nothing teen years, features a young woman named Delphi. When I took up the unfinished and reekingly awful beginnings of that novel 25 years later, I intended to change Delphi’s name, but she flat-out refused to cooperate.) I use online naming sites to give me ideas, and try not to reuse names or name anyone after people in my 3-D life, unless it’s an in-joke, as in Sending Rupert Home when I gave ‘off-camera’ school-kids the names of my nutty uncles. (As an aside: I know a man who said his wife let him name their daughter based on three criteria: it couldn’t be the name of any child in their neighborhood, it couldn’t be the name of any of the children she taught, and it couldn’t be the name of anyone she hadn’t liked when she was growing up.)
* Your characters seem so alive and real…what is your secret?
Olive oil and a little—I mean, listen to the people around you. Listen to how they talk. Listen to what real people sound like and watch how they act, and make your characters like them: natural. Believable. Real.
* If you could have dinner with one of your characters, who would it be?
From Evan’s Castle, I believe I would like to have dinner with Isabel Collins. She doesn’t have a huge role in the novel but she seemed like a classy, interesting lady, and I understand she’s an excellent cook.
#4: Advice to Other Writers
* Do you have any advice for writers?
When people give you guidance about structure, grammar, punctuation, spelling, or flow, listen. When they ask you to change characters or plot lines to their liking, listen with one ear closed and the other tuned to ‘skepticism.’ The story should be yours, not theirs. You should be able to look at it and see your creativity, not theirs. Unless theirs is better, in which case, steal their work and—wait. That would be wrong. *cough*
* How do you deal with negative feedback—like rejection letters and bad reviews?
I wrote a post about this issue for Gather.com (http://www.gather.com/viewArticle.action?articleId=281474978050919) when Reasons got a bad review. The important thing is to be able to separate comments about the writing from comments which only reflect the reviewer’s personal issues. I didn’t like the bad review but at least I was able to step back, study it carefully, and see that the reviewer obviously barely read the book, since most of her critical remarks were factually incorrect. Plus she seemed like a really cranky woman, so I was already better off. 😉
#5: Wrap-Up Questions
* What are you working on now? (required)
I’m in a kind of limbo now. I edit for other writers (for Stonegarden.net, my publisher) and I am doing the final final final edits on my summer novel, Callie By The Bay, out in June. I still regularly write in my head, however (not on my head, though; not that limber).
* Do you have any upcoming appearances or releases that you would like to share with us?
Why yes! Yes, I do! Callie By The Bay, a mystery set on the eastern shore of Mobile Bay, will be out in June. Also, I will be participating in a three-way author chat hosted by Connie C. on Gather, May 5, with Peter Joseph Swanson and Shirley Ann Howard, who are also Stonegarden authors. I hope to update my website soon to include excerpts from Callie and more review links to Evan’s Castle, Reasons, and Sending Rupert Home.
* If you could leave your readers with one bit of wisdom, what would you want it to be?
I’ll give them more than one!
–Never stick a sewing needle into the mattress while you’re hemming slacks if that mattress is a water bed.
–People talk. They just do. If you don’t want them talking about you, then don’t do idiotic things in public.
–That “I before E except after C” so-called rule is a complete crock.
–Write. You can never be a writer if you don’t write. You might not be a great writer even if you do write, but if you don’t write, then you can’t even be a mediocre one.